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Irish Advance To Sweet 16

March 25, 2003

Box Score?|? Quotes?|? Notes

AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Notre Dame did it again – another upset on another opponent’s home court in the NCAA tournament.

Credit a defense called “The Storm.”

The 11th-seeded Irish got 17 points from Le’Tania Severe and used an active matchup zone to beat No. 3 seed Kansas State 59-53 Tuesday night in the second round of the East Regional.

Notre Dame (21-10) shut down a team that had been averaging 75 points a game and advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth time in seven years.

“Regardless of what (defense) we were in, we knew we just had to get out on the shooters and make sure we didn’t give them any easy shots,” Severe said. “I didn’t realize we confused them, but I thought we did a great job on defense. We did what we practiced and it worked out for us.”

Notre Dame had not used that particular defense since early January and brought it out at just the right time. Even with its potent offense, Kansas State (29-5) couldn’t recover after going 12:44 without a field goal and had a 22-game home winning streak broken.

“It was a good change of pace for us,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “It enabled us to get out a little better on their shooters and also be able to double-team inside. We call it `The Storm’ because we put a lot of pressure on the ball and try to be real aggressive in it.”

The Irish were too aggressive for Kansas State, which shot 33 percent and was 9-for-30 from 3-point range.

“I thought for whatever reason that mentally we really froze,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “We were our own worst enemies a lot of possessions in the second half. I haven’t seen this team play like this all year. It snuck up and got us.”

“I was so pleased with the poise of our freshmen to step up and hit free throws like that.”Muffet McGraw

Notre Dame took advantage of the Wildcats’ struggles to open a 45-38 lead on freshman Megan Duffy’s 3-pointer with 7:45 left, just enough of a cushion to hold on down the stretch.

Duffy, who had been 5-for-30 from behind the arc coming in, had put Notre Dame ahead to stay at 35-32 with a 3-pointer and made four of her team’s eight free throws in the final 1:01. Her reward will be a trip to her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, for a regional semifinal game with Purdue next Sunday.

Another freshman, Courtney LaVere, made two other free throws at the end.

“I was so pleased with the poise of our freshmen to step up and hit free throws like that,” McGraw said.

Kansas State, cheered on by a purple-clad crowd of 11,534, managed a late run, but Notre Dame kept making free throws every time the Wildcats got to within two points.

Nicole Ohlde’s layup with 28.2 seconds remaining left K-State trailing 55-53, but Duffy made two free throws to take the lead back to four. Kansas State’s last hopes ended when Chelsea Domenico missed a 3-point shot and Jacqueline Batteast rebounded for Notre Dame. Severe then made two final free throws.

Courtney LaVere added 14 points for Notre Dame, Alicia Ratay scored 12 and Duffy 10. Laurie Koehn hit seven 3-pointers and led Kansas State with 23 points. Ohlde scored 15.

Notre Dame, the 2001 national champion, had pulled off upsets on the home courts of higher seeded teams in 1997 and 1998. Thanks to their defense, the Irish did it again.

Kansas State recovered from a miserable start to take a 31-26 lead on Koehn’s 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the first half. But the Wildcats did not make another basket until Koehn hit a 3 with 8:56 left in the game.

By that time, Notre Dame had built a 40-32 lead. Kansas State missed its first 11 shots of the second half and committed six turnovers in that stretch.

“A lot of this was us not getting in our spots and doing what we’re capable of doing,” Ohlde said. “You have to give them credit. They were aggressive and had their hands up all over the place.”